How do I find my book’s potential audience and how do I reach them?

Remember last week we talked about how technology has changed the publishing world. The publishers, distributors and bookstores aren’t in control anymore. The consumer (your reader) determines which books make it. And you’re in control too – because you have direct access to your reader now; it’s your job to share your story with your reader, to make her a fan, and to allow her to share your story, to make more fans.

The first step of this process is to identify your potential reader. Who is your reader? Let me stop for a second to explain something really, really important: Your audience (all of your potential readers) is made up of individual readers. Focus your intention, your voice, your message on your reader (singular); the audience will come along. Individuals buy books, not audiences.

Remember our busy soccer mom author who has written the book on how a busy soccer mom can provide healthy, home-cooked meals for her family on weeknights? We identified her reader, as (of course) a busy soccer mom who wants to provide healthy, home-cooked meals for her family on weeknights, and we guessed, conservatively, that her audience, those busy soccer moms who wanted to provide healthy home-cooked meals to their families on weeknights and were willing to buy her book to show them how was made up of about 10,000 individual soccer moms.

The next step is to go to where your audience gathers. Our soccer mom could do this in the real world, showing up at soccer practices with books in the trunk of her car, but it’s easier, cheaper, faster and much more effective to show up where her 10,000 soccer moms gather in the digital world (read my blog post “Join the Conversation).

Here are the four major digital gathering places for soccer moms and everyone else in the world, these places are where you need to be involved in the conversation:

Websites – There are over 600 million websites in the digital universe; a simple Google search will reveal which company and association websites cater to your audience; that’s where your readers will aggregate and communicate (i.e. come together share, read, watch listen and talk … digitally). Our soccer mom might choose http://www.cysasoccer.org/, http://www.soccer-for-parents.com/, or http://soccermommanual.com.

Blogs – More than 100 million blogs exist on the Internet. Blogs tend to be more intimate, conversational and more ‘digital community’ oriented than commercial or association websites – like the difference between visiting Wal-Mart and visiting someone’s home. Our soccer mom might choose http://socalsoccermom.com, http://blog.teamsnap.com, or http://crazysoccermom.blogspot.com as good places to join in conversation.

Facebook – About 1.16 billion members strong now, Facebook is the Social network. Anyone and everyone, including your readers, is on Facebook. They’re there to share – you need to be too. There are Facebook ‘groups’ for every imaginable interest – soccer moms (good and bad) included.

Twitter – About 500 million people speak their minds and share the ‘tweets’ of those they follow via Twitter. There’s a better than even chance that your readers are on Twitter for you to follow and be followed. Searching Twitter with a # (hashtag) followed by your book’s interest group will instantly bring up the aggregate of everyone (good and bad) in the Twitter world who has ‘tweeted’ on your subject.

A little warning*: the Internet, Social Media platforms included, is a big place. There are good folks and not so good folks out there. Don’t let the baddies stop you from using this incredibly powerful tool to reach your audience for good.

Why is Social Media so important?

1) It’s free – all it takes is a little work on your end.

2) It works better, much better than any paid for of advertising. According to Forrester research, 70% of consumers trust a friend’s product recommendation while only about 3% trust a magazine ad.

3) Using Internet search engines and Social Media platforms you can target your audience precisely, regardless of geographical location. No other form of advertising or visibility, at any price, has the combination of little or no cash outlay, targeting capability and word of mouth trust.

Next week we’ll begin drilling down into the individual platforms I mentioned I this letter. This week’s assignment – Identify your reader (singular).